This scene from the TV series Elementary moved me. Strongly.
I watched it several days ago. And yet, my thoughts return to it still.
Like “Sherlock”, I have often wondered … well, wished … if I should have been born in another time. All my life, indeed, I have had occasion to entertain this wish. This feeling, of somehow being … out of place. But it is only recently that my reason for doing so has echoed Sherlock’s.
As a child, and an avid reader of books, I oh so easily imagined myself living in the earliest era of aviation. Being one of those “magnificent men in their flying machines”.
In my early teenage years, a friend introduced me to the novels of Wilbur Smith. Need I say more.
The first decade or so of my adulthood, however, brought no pause for such contemplations, as I busied myself with the trappings of the world.
Witnessing the near-death experience of my older brother changed everything. My “conversion”, my “spiritual awakening”, or “rebirthing”, if you will, ushered me into the dawning of profound change, of most all my previous perspectives.
During those energetic years in pursuit of my piece of all the best the world appeared to offer, I found it very easy, natural, to focus intently on the achievement, the attainment, of many and various desired outcomes. From the immediate, to the somewhat more distant of aspirations.
I have always had a great ability to focus. To exist as in a tunnel, striving, seeing only the chosen object. For the time required, all else completely eclipsed, as though it did not exist.
From my days as a child reading “Reach for the Sky” for the umpteenth time, oblivious to calls to the supper table, to my days as a late teen road running in rain, hail, or shine, oblivious to the blared horns and flailed arms of friends passing by seeking to capture my attention, to my days as a young entrepreneur powering through 19 hour days at the office, it seems that I have always had a great natural ability to completely shut out from mind all but that which I wanted to exist there.
Perhaps the most profound change, one experienced immediately on my conversion, my transcendence to the “new life” of the spiritual world, was a tremendous stillness, or silence, of the activities of mind. To describe that bliss, I have not words even remotely adequate to the attempt.
This may strike you as paradoxical; my claim to natural capacity for focus, contrasted with an expression of joy on being relieved of all thoughts.
Not so, for I have always been a “complex person”, given to much thought. It is of importance to note that my ability to shut out unwanted thought has always been predicated on desire … on my first having chosen a particular some thing that I wished to achieve, or attain.
But on my rebirthing, I suddenly awoke from my former life, to find myself quite bereft of predicates.
Strangely, happily, I wanted nothing.
Absolutely. No thing.
I felt complete contentment.
I no longer felt desire for any thing. That is to say, any other thing. Only that which I was experiencing.
I desired no material thing.
And no intellectual thing.
Intellectualism, the power of rational thought, of ideas, it is a subtle master, and one to whom I had been a perpetual slave. Sifting, sorting, analysing, contextualising, prioritising, debating, arguing; these had long been activities, or better I can now say, exertions, of mind in which I had ceaselessly, remorselessly engaged. Nought did I know then, for I could not see, how vain, how unnecessary, how unimportant were all these exertions , in the greater and true scheme of all things.
(For it has now become clear to me, that we employ our intellectual strivings, almost exclusively, in the service of attaining material, and transient things. Goods. Objects. Status. Recognition. A higher total of electronic digits at a bank. Illusions of Safety, Prosperity, and Security.)
And so it was, oh blessed joy, what peace, a great bliss, to suddenly, effortlessly, find myself in a place relieved of these exertions! Shut out, kept far from me, almost as though with a magical, invisible force field.
Immediately, and only the more clearly in time, I saw the truth of our quest for knowledge, and our pride in acquisition, in attainment of “information” and “facts”. Of the great, transcendent value of Knowing, as compared to merely knowing. And so it came to be that not only the name of my first blog, The Blissful Ignoramus, but also the tagline, encapsulated my new perspective.
“I Don’t Know… the truth that sets me free” —
Most of the time, on most topics, I don’t know.
Instead, I only “know” what someone else has said.
I don’t know, if they really know. Often they too, only “know” what they’ve heard or read from someone else.
Most of the time, on most topics, we merely parrot what others have said. And imagine, that we really Know.
I have learned, that this a very important thing to Know.
Recognising what I don’t know, makes me feel humble.
Accepting that I don’t know, makes me feel free.
Observing when others really don’t know either, makes me feel equal… and forewarned.
Intuiting when no one really knows, makes me feel unity, understanding, and empathy.
We’re all in this world of lies, half-truths (now called ‘spin’)… together. And what a sad and sorry flock of unthinking parrots we all are! In truth, none of us really Knows much about anything.
On looking back over the archives of The Blissful Ignoramus, I can see clearly where my spiritual state has gone awry in recent years. At approximately the same time as I began to turn, in mind and heart, back towards certain problems of the world, desiring to, in some way, contribute to redressing them, commensurate with the rate of turning, my “blissful ignorance” began to fade. The clear, effortless, simple insights expressed there in aphoristic form, became the more infrequent.
I have in consequence found myself in a strange and dry place, perhaps somewhat like that expressed by St. Paul. Seemingly caught between two worlds. Unable to “have”, to “fit” into, or even to truly desire, either one. And in this neither world, that invisible force field, the one formerly shutting out the noise, the cacophony, of worldly things and my own thought processes, it too departed from me, along with my state of blissful “ignorance”.
But happily, over the past week, since those events chronicled in These Present Waters, I have again begun to experience, to Know, albeit sporadically, the experience of blissful ignorance. And in so Knowing, I have become profoundly aware once again of the intrusion, the enormous, dark, and snatching power of distraction, arising from all the noise “out there”.
It seems to me that it is only when one has experienced being set free from all the noise that goes on inside one’s own mind — when one has let go of it all, and fallen back into the deep, quiet, silent well of Living Water — that one can truly see how intrusive, how distracting from what is truly important, is all the noise, amplified, coming from “out there”.
Perhaps too, this is why, over the past week, I have most often Known the experience of that “blissful ignorance” — stillness, silence of mind and heart — while having my earplugs in, wind softly rustling, and V-Twin rhythmically pulsing through my body.
It’s the consistency. The constancy. The blessed monotony.
It’s the sound of a “steady state”, you see.